Hit the Hay to Hit the Gym

Beautiful young woman sleeping on bed in her bedroom at home inWe all know how great a good night’s rest can leave us feeling, but did you know that proper rest and high-quality sleep can actually improve your workouts and help keep you at a healthy body weight? Yep, according to the National Sleep Foundation, sleep is essential for a person’s health and well-being, although, unfortunately, reports show that catching zzz’s has become a luxury rather than a priority for many of us. Sad face.

The good news is that studies suggest that regular exercise helps you fall asleep faster, sleep longer and wake up less frequently during the night. Even just 20 minutes of exercise a day can help you when hitting the sack. Here are some other fun facts from the exercise experts at Life Fitness about how getting beauty rest can actually affect your workout.

The Exercise and Sleep Connection

Work out hard. Sleep hard. Intense workouts and lack of sleep do not make good partners because while you’re sleeping, your body works to repair muscle stress that occurred during exercise. The harder you train, the more sleep and rest you need to recover; otherwise, you will fall victim to injury and overtraining.

Hit the hay before a workout. When strength training, you want to ensure that you have had at least six to eight hours of sleep the night before to ensure your muscles are well-rested and performing to their potential. Same is true when engaging in intense cardio training.

Don’t deprive yourself of sleep. Sleep deprivation can slow glucose metabolism, the energy source for the brain, by as much as 30 to 40 percent. Therefore, lack of sleep can not only affect your exercise performance and level of motivation, but it can also lead to potential accidents and injuries due to slower reaction time and reduced concentration.

Having problems falling asleep? Try an intense workout like a group cycling class, circuit training or a 30-minute interval training program on the treadmill or elliptical cross-trainer. The high intensity of the workout will cause your muscles to fatigue, sending dopamine, the hormone that helps you sleep, throughout your body.

Obesity and sleep are linked. Research has shown that people who sleep less than seven to nine hours a night are up to 75 percent more likely to be obese. It makes sense because studies have found that sleep deprivation increases levels of the hunger hormone (ghrelin) and decreases levels of the hormone that makes you feel full (leptin), ultimately slowing down your metabolism. For those who live in a constant tired state, the effect of little sleep often leads to overeating, lack of motivation to work out and weight gain.

See? Get those zzz’s, ladies! —Jenn

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  1. Jenny Jen says:

    I once had an insomnia-ridden night, where I was debating whether to cut my sleep short to make it to a 6:30am yoga class, or to sleep in and not get the Moksha Flow class in, that I try to do daily. I ended up pulling an all nighter in my worrisome state (a feat I never reached even in my teens) and decided to make it to the early morning yoga class since I was up anyways.

    This article is essential to build awareness that nothing is more important than a full nights sleep. Our body depends on those hour’s of z’s and the facts above make me want to bask in it first and foremost.

  2. cheska says:

    Hi Jenny, I used to have insomnia-nights as well. It was so hard. I had a hard time working or even doing just whatever the next day since I feel tired and so sleep-deprived. This is indeed a very interesting read. Thanks a lot.

  3. I love the benefits that exercise has on sleep as I am what you might call an “intermediate” level body building enthusiast. High intensity interval training is by far my favorite way to burn calories, and I would do it every day if the realities of overtraining ceased to exist. The unfortunate truth for gym rats like me is that muscle growth occurs during rest and recovery, and not activity – otherwise, you would find me in the gym every day.

  4. I heartily agree with your idea that a good night’s sleep leads to better workouts in the gym. As a personal trainer I find that many of my clients barely sleep 6 hours a night. This is a result of busy lifestyles; working moms that are trying to take care of themselves, and everyone else. I recommend to these busy, sleep-deprived people, that they try to exercise in the morning, early in the day. Working out in the morning can boost your energy for the day, improve your mood and help your ability to think clearly. It also can help you to get to the workout in the first place. You can avoid time crunches and schedule interruptions. Do take it a little easier in the morning and take time to do a longer warm-up until your body adapts to the new routine.

  5. well sleep is very important when you do alot of workouts !